Tagged: The Doctor

Martha Thomases: Doctor Who and Something… Joyful!

Thomases Art 131129It was Saturday morning and I was at the Union Square Green Market buying dried black beans for soup. It was a beautiful clear cold day, the kind that makes me even more chatty with the people selling the goodies (and, yes, I consider black beans to be goodies. Sue me.). The lovely young woman who took my money commented about being outside all day.

“But there’s Doctor Who!” I said.

She looked at me with scorn.

“I have to watch,” I said defensively. “I need to be able to talk to my son.”

“You’re a good person,” she said. I interpreted this to mean that I was subjecting myself to something tiresome in order to be a good parent.

I came late to Doctor Who. I mean, I had heard of it but never felt any great need to see it. I thought it might be like Thomas, the Tank Engine, a perfectly fine BBC show for children that I also didn’t want to watch. A character with a colorful scarf did not seem compelling enough to me.

Years went by. My son and I bonded over various media, including the television ventures of Joss Whedon, Homicide: Life on the Street, and assorted, other, coolstuff .

So when he said I’d like Doctor Who, I listened. But first, I whined. “It’s been on forever,” I said. “I don’t have time to watch decades worth of a series.

“You only need the new stuff,” he said. “It’s all on Netflix. It’s easy.”

So I started. The first episode I saw didn’t thrill me. I mean, it was fine, but didn’t seem to be the kind of thing to inspire a cult. My son said, “Give it time. Lots of people don’t like Christopher Eccleston.”

But he wasn’t the problem. I thought he looked a bit like Jason Statham, and I amused myself by imagining what the program would be like if Jason were The Doctor. Fucking awesome is what it would be.

So I was enjoying Eccleston, but it was David Tennant who won my heart. That is a cute guy. And, as I was relaxing into the show more, it grew on me. I liked his relationships with the various companions, women who were his friends, nothing more and, more important, nothing less. I liked that they were not, for the most part, conventionally beautiful. Billie Piper’s Rose Tyler was dressed to look like she still had some baby fat, Freema Agyeman’s Martha Jones is (you should pardon the expression) black, and Catherine Tate’s Donna Noble was definitely pudgy and had rather coarse features (please note I think these some are beautiful, but my point is simply that they don’t meet Hollywood standards). They were, like most of us at first glance, ordinary. And, as we watched them interact with The Doctor, they revealed themselves to be, like most of us, extraordinary.

Matt Smith is no David Tennant, but he grew on me. I felt the writing for his character got dicey at times, with some of the gags forced, and his resemblance to Stan Laurel was, at times, distracting. But I loved the Ponds. Through them, I grew to like Smith.

I enjoyed “The Day of the Doctor.” It was fun. I suspect I missed a few Easter eggs, since my knowledge of the older versions of the show is limited to the newer episodes, which I know makes me much less cool. However, I have loved John Hurt since he was Caligula, so that was pretty much great.

Before I left with my black beans, I said to the woman, “The thing about Doctor Who is that, no matter how dangerous the situation, no matter how dire the circumstances, the characters are always happy to see each other. They always find something joyful.”

“Maybe,” she said, “I need to look at it again.”

SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman

SUNDAY: John Ostreander


New Who Review: The Day of the Doctor

New Who Review: The Day of the Doctor

It’s not often you get to describe an event as being fifty years in the making. even less so do you get to mean it.  Three Doctors in three timelines converge to give them all a chance to change a terrible moment in their collective past.

The Day of the Doctor
by Steven Moffat
Directed by Nick Hurran

The Doctor is in the present, in his most recent incarnation, picking up Clara, when he gets picked up himself, by UNIT, to investigate a mystery at the National Museum.  Meanwhile (well, I say meanwhile…) in his previous incarnation, he’s investigating a mystery in Elizabethan Britain, an attack by the Zygons that could lead all the way to the Queen herself.  And in another part of the Universe entirely, The War Doctor is making a decision that will put the lives of countless innocents in his hands, a choice that will darken and color his life for centuries to come.

Considering that it is physically impossible to create an episode that has everyone and everything that every fan wants, this episode was as close to perfect as could be.  It embraced plotlines that were started in the Davies era, tied in moments and points in Moffat’s own time of running the show, and did a job of undoing a dark moment in The Doctor’s history worthy of Geoff Johns.  I screamed out loud three times, and it would have been four, if one fellow had been able to keep his mouth shut.

THE MONSTER FILES: The Zygons only got one appearance in the original series, the eponymous Terror of the Zygons, but it was enough to keep the popular in the alternative media for years.  Shapeshifting beings, they invade by taking over from within, taking the forms of important people.  They got an off-camera return in The Power of Three as they tried to invade during Amy and Rory’s second honeymoon.

BACKGROUND BITS AND BOBS:Trivia and production details

Oh my GOD is this gonna be a long one.  This episode is packed with self-references and tips of the hat, as well as calling back to points from many other episodes.  I’ll see if I can hit them all…

THE QUESTION ISN’T WHERE, IT’S WHEN: More precisely, from when.  Matt Smith’s Doctor is clearly experiencing this adventure in the “present,” as in after the events of the last season.  Considering Ten(nant) is traveling alone, and is having the adventure he refers to when talking to Ood Sigma in the beginning of The End of Time, he’s clearly from a period between The Waters of Mars and that episode.  We don’t know exactly how much time he spent gallivanting about between those episodes, clearly long enough for his memories of the details of this paradoxical adventure (while still remembering the bits about the Virgin Queen) that he still saw a need to re-imprison the Time Lords with the help of The Master.

Similarly, The War Doctor is experiencing this adventure at the end of this regeneration.  But while we saw his “birth” in the Paul McGann mini-episode, we don’t know exactly how long he has been around, fighting in (and against) the Time War.  He was in his seven hundreds at the end of the original series, and nine hundred at the beginning of the new, so there’s quite a lot of years to spread around between Seven, Eight, and The War Doctor.

So in brief, we’re seeing all three Doctors having this adventure very near the end of their respective regenerations.  So each of them have seen all they’re going to see through their eyes, and that’s about the best time.

CALL FOR THE DOCTOR QUICK, QUICK, QUICK: Kate Stewart, the head of UNIT, daughter of The Brig, has a custom ring for The Doctor on her phone.
Also, note that The Doctor’s number is once again 07700900461, as it was in The Stolen Earth. About 2500 people thought that might be a working number (at least for a tie-in recording or bit of marketing, anyway) when that adventure aired, and tried calling it.  no idea how many will try it this time.

“Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be: Be one”: They hit the ground running with the self-references.  I.M. Foreman‘s scrap yard was where we first met the Doctor, Susan and the TARDIS, lo those fifty years ago.  Susan attended Coal Hill secondary school, where she aroused the curiosity of teachers Barbara Wright and Ian Chesterton, who as we see here, now serves as headmaster.  Sarah Jane Smith did a bit of investigating, and tracked down Ian and Barbara (now Barbara Chesterton), and reported to her son Luke that they no longer appear to age.  Also, notice that as we see Clara erasing the quote from Marcus Aurelius on her whiteboard, the words “NO MORE” are in the center of the screen.

“Draft”: The Triumph Clara’s driving is the one The Doctor drove up the side of The Shard in The Bells of Saint John.  When last we saw Clara and The Doctor, she was not getting along with the TARDIS, now she’d shutting the doors with a click of her fingers.  Clearly quite some time has passed since the events of The Name of the Doctor – enough time for her to get a job as a teacher, and to make peace with the TARDIS.  And yet she and The Doctor still keep their “See you next Wednesday” relationship, as it’s clear she’s not traveling with him regularly, tho she has no problem with picking up and running when he pops by.

“Tell Malcolm we need new batteries” – Malcolm Taylor is the acting scientific advisor for UNIT, and was played by Lee Evans in Planet of the Dead, and when I heard his name, I let loose with my third-loudest shout of the evening.  If you folks think you were upset that Rose or Eccleston didn’t appear…
And those are presumably the “Ravens of Death” she claimed to have in The Power of Three.

“Nice Scarf” – Considering what we appear to learn at the end of the episode, that scarf MAY not be a replica.  It might have been a gift. From the original owner.
There’s a bit of debate going on as to exactly who Osgood is. Rich Johnson at Bleeding Cool seems to believe that she’s Kate’s daughter – while her first line was her calling “Mum”, I took that to mean the honorific “Ma’am”, and not “Mom”.  But we both noticed there was a UNIT tech named Tom Osgood in The Daemons, and a few of the prose stories, so that seems a more possible guess on her father, anyway.

“I’d be brilliant at having a job”: Well, he really does work for UNIT, when he’s around, and he did pretty well in the two jobs he took when he was helping Craig Owen in The Lodger and Closing Time.

“The High Council is in emergency session, they have plans of their own”: Those would be the plans set into action in The End of Time. We first heard of The Moment in that episode, as it too took place (partly, in flashback) during the end of the Time War.

“The Doctor has The Moment”: In a delightful bit of ingenious design, the initial gear-like design for of The Moment somewhat resembles the Antikythera mechanism, an Out Of Place Artifact found in Greece that (theoretically) could plot the positions of the stars to astounding accuracy.

“The interface is hot”: For those who are grousing that Billie Piper is not playing Rose, not my comment above.  If we were watching an adventure where The Doctor was traveling with Rose, we’d be watching a Doctor who had not yet met Martha, Donna Noble, the crew of Bowie Base One, a Doctor who had, in short, barely begun to live.  This was a way to have Billie a part of the show, while still giving us the best Doctor to experience the story. Also note that it’s a lovely parallel to Ten meeting Rose at the end of The End of Time, before they’ve met in that first adventure, Rose. The War Doctor meets her (or at least sees her visage) before he regenerates and meets (and saves) her in that department store.  So once again, The Bad Wolf was guiding them all to fulfill the almost predestined moment so far in the future.

“Elizabeth the First…you knew her, then?”: Based on what we see here, and what Ten implies later, we shall have to leave tactfully alone the question of what definition of “knew” is being used here… This is England 1562, 37 years before The Shakespeare Code, where we “First” meet the queen, and The Doctor is totally unaware of why she’d be so angry at him.  I expect that happens a lot.

It’s a machine that goes “ding”: It’s presumably similar to The Machine That Goes “Ding” When There’s Stuff, as seen in Blink. While that one was more tuned to temporal anomalies, this one is attuned to physical ones, like the energy expended by a shapeshifting alien.

“Is it important?” “In 1,200 years, I haven’t stepped in anything that wasn’t”” Another callback, this time to A Christmas Carol, when he said it about people.

“I need you to send me one of my father’s incident files”: She is almost certainly asking for the files on the incident we know as The Three Doctors, the tenth anniversary adventure.  As they had to do in the past, they had to come up with a way around using one Doctor, but not for the same reason. William Hartnell was not well at the time, an advancement of the illness that cause him to leave the show in the first place.  So he was not able to take an active part in the story, instead relegated to appearing via the scanner screen.  Ten years later, Tom Baker wasn’t able to appear in The Five Doctors, so they used footage from Shada in his stead.  Hartnell had already passed, so Richard Hurndall took on the role of the First Doctor.
For all the grousing many fans are making that they “left out Eccleston” from this adventure, it’s been verified via the man himself and he chose not to participate in the episode.  His departure from the series was not entirely cordial; no firm details have come to light because he’s a professional, but it’s generally understood there was no small amount of bad blood.
The reference to “Seventies or eighties, depending” is a sly nod to the fact that the Pertwee years of the show were filmed in the seventies, but were supposed to be taking place an unspecified number of years in the future, to try and explain the higher tech items that were sprinkled around.

“Reverse the polarity”: “Reverse the polarity of the Neutron Flow” was one of Jon Pertwee’s legendary catch phrases, but like “Beam me up Scotty”, usually misremembered.  That exact phrase was only used once in the series, and as a hat tip in The Five Doctors”, it was the shorter quote used here that got used in numerous episodes.

“Why are you pointing your screwdrivers like that?”: The War Doctor gives voice to many of the complaints old-guard fans have had about the new series – all the kissing, the Sonic Screwdriver acting more like a weapon (and a magic wand), and much more.  Not to mock the fans, but more to point out the fact that the creators know full well how much the show has changed. And indeed, it’s the constant change of the show that has kept it alive.

“We’ll need access to the Black Archive”: Of all the stuff in that warehouse, I spotted River Song’s Manolos, a Cyberman head, a Sontaran blaster and the chair they had Ten trussed up in in The End of Time, which at this point in time…hasn’t happened yet.  The Black Archive first got mentioned on Sarah Jane Adventures, in the episode Enemy of the Bane, guest-starring Nicholas Courtney in his last appearances as The Brigadier.

“You have a top-level security rating from your last visit”: The question is, is that just a continuance of the fact that everyone has their memories wiped as they leave, one of the many times that Clara has appeared in The Doctor’s past, or a precursor to an upcoming story?  Also on that board with the more recent Companions are Tegan Jovanka, Nyssa of Traken, Kamelion, Five’s short-lived android companion, even Ian and Barbara.  Also, photographed with Captain Erisa Magambo is Rose Tyler…but there’s a problem there.  The only time they met were in the alternate timeline of Turn Left.  So…where did that photo come from?

“We don’t have the activation code”: The numbers The Doctor scratches into the wall of their cell is 1716231163.  Or more clearly, 17:16 23/11/63, the exact date and time that episode one of An Unearthly Child was originally broadcast.

“Same software…different face”: We’re not talking about the screwdriver any more, are we, blondie?  Because later on in the episode, we find out that in a very similar way, The Doctor has been mulling a problem over for the same 400 years, one that he gets to solve himself, not by someone just opening the right door at the last minute.
Moffat is so so good at playing with time as a plot point.  Sending the activation code into the future by writing it on the wall, and the idea of the scan taking the long way round and finishing up just as it’s needed.

“Oh, you’ve redecorated…I don’t like it”: A twice-joked joke, back for a third time.  Patrick Troughton said it about Jon Pertwee’s TARDIS in The Three Doctors, and Eleven said it about Craig’s home in Closing Time.

“At worst, we failed at doing the right thing, as opposed to succeeding in doing the wrong”: What this episode does is essentially undoes an act that The Doctor has regretted for centuries.  But as is always true of situations like this, it has to be undone in a way so nobody KNOWS it was undone, otherwise any events springing from it will not happen as they did, and you get paradoxes springing up like dandelions. So that, more than any other, is why all the Doctors from the time The Moment was supposedly used had to believe they DID use it.  Only until after the present Doctor lives through his portion of the history can he be allowed to remember.  It’s a temporal version of eating your cake and having it too.

“Wearing a bit thin”: Which is exactly how Hartnell described himself shortly before the first regeneration in The Tenth Planet, ushering in the miracle that would keep the show going for five decades.

“I don’t want to go”: Technically, this is the first time he says that – he’ll say it again in The End of Time.  They even worked it into the script of An Adventure in Space and Time.

“I could be a curator”: He is the Curator.  The letter from Elizabeth I appoints The Doctor as official Curator of the Undergallery, “to be summoned in the event of any crises concerning it.”  Now, how he gets all the way back around to the time, place and form we see here, well, that’s all the fun is finding out, isn’t it?

BIG BAD REPORT / CLEVER THEORY DEPARTMENT: For once, the arc of the upcoming season might be a positive.  Gallifrey Falls No More, and clearly The Doctor wants to find it.  But there’s a problem.  They may not have been destroyed, but this is clearly still the Time Lords who saw no problem with breaking out of their temporal prison by destroying the Earth, with the goal of controlling all of time and space.  Now one could argue that it was more the mad plans of the Lord President (played by Timothy Dalton in The End of Time) nd the rest of the Time Lords (save two) fell into line.  But that’s an argument we heard around the middle of last century, and it didn’t fly too well or too often.  If I have the timeline right, The Time Lords will be banished back into the Time Lock after EoT, and find almost immediately that their plan was unneeded, as The Doctor saves the planet and shunts it off somewhere.  So in the time that has passed, have they come to their senses and spent their time rebuilding, or have the grown even more enraged as they pounded at the walls of their temporal prison?  It’s the same question Wilf asked in EoT – will the Time Lords’ return be a good thing?  A lot of possibilities.

“No , sir…all thirteen”: In two seconds, Peter Capaldi premiered as The Doctor, and his eyebrows have already garnered their own fandom.  It also verifies what has been assumed to be true since new news of the New Doctor came out: The next Doctor is the last of his current cycle of regenerations.  Moffat has stated clearly that the 12-regeneration limit is still in place, whimsical comment in Sarah Jane Adventures notwithstanding. So in addition to the search for Gallifrey, we’ll certainly hear more than a bit about him reaching the seeming end of his lives.  One has to wonder if the resolution of one plotline will resolve the other.


In the more short-term, Silence Will Fall.

See you back here at Christmas.

Doctor Who Anniversary prequel – “The Night of the Doctor”

Rule One: The Moffat Lies.

Rule One-a: So Does The McGann.

After nearly a year of what showrunner Steven Moffat described as “lying through my teeth”, the prequel to the Doctor Who anniversary episode “The Day of the Doctor” reveals that the one fact that upset people the most is the one that was the biggest lie.

Watch, and squee with me. (more…)

“Doctor Who” lost episodes to be announced on Tuesday (we think)

The Web of Fear

The Web of Fear (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A rumor claiming a cache of as many as 106 episodes of Doctor Who being found has been declared at least one percent true. The Radio Times is reporting that missing episodes from the Patrick Troughton era have not only been found, but will be available for sale on iTunes as early as this Wednesday.

The BBC have announced a press conference on Tuesday, presumably to share specifics.  Insiders are suggesting the missing episodes include Enemy of the World  and The Web of Fear.  Enemy of the World features a lookalike for The Doctor attempting to (dare I say it) rule the world in the mid twenty-first century.  The Web of Fear is the second appearance of The Great Intelligence, just seen in the latest series of the show, and features the returning Abominable Snowmen androids, and first appearance of Alastair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart, here a Colonel, but eventually promoted to Brigadier General, will go on to lead UNIT in the Pertwee years, and on through the run up to actor Nicholas Courtney‘s passing.

This is a minor confirmation of a rumor that has run roughshod over Doctor Who fandom for most of the Summer.  The story, broken first by the folks at Bleeding Cool, involves as many as 106 episodes of the series being discovered in an Ethiopan TV stations vaults.  This trove allegedly contained episodes from both the Hartnell and Troughton years, including completely lost stories, and missing episodes from partially complete adventures.  Taken with grains of salt by most, the story gained suggestions of corroboration as times passed; members of the restoration team came out staunchly against the rumor, and then tactfully amended their positions.  The BBC went with the very popular “Cannot confirm or deny”, which, thanks to a world where shows like The Thick of It and House of Cards are often mistaken for documentaries, was taken as a tacit “yes” by many optimists.

The story got a new life when UK tabloid (and all that that implies) The Mirror posted a story “confirming” the find this weekend.  The story was light on facts, and appeared mostly to parrot points made in the original Bleeding Cool article from the early summer, leading most Who-fen to wave it off.  But the Radio Times announcement, combined with the press conference, has caused a resurgence in the hope that the rumor may have far more than its current one to two percent veracity ratio.

Considering the long time frame between the alleged discovery and now, one could envision a scenario where episodes have been getting a top-secret restoration treatment to tie into next month’s anniversary.  But with the DVD release of the final hartnell adventure The Tenth Planet having been hastily rescheduled for October 14th in the UK, many are wondering if the currently announced contents of the disc may change radically at that press conferences.  At least one report of the massive lost episodes haul claims it includes a complete copy of Tenth Planet. The final episode, featuring the first regeneration of The Doctor, is one of the most desired missing episodes.  The only existing footage of the regeneration is a brief clip from an episode of children’s show Blue Peter.

The original number may not be true, but the recovery of ANY episodes of the series is newsworthy, and the management entreats hopeful Whovians to bear that in mind when definitive details are released this Tuesday.

But so help me, if they’ve recovered The Web Planet, I may break my fingers pulling my wallet from my pocket.

REVIEW: Doctor Who – The Complete Seventh Series

who-seven-150x184-4924796There were certainly enough twists and turns in the latest series of Doctor Who to warrant a re-viewing, and not that The Complete Seventh Series is out on DVD and Blu-Ray, you’ve got your chance. The Fall of the Ponds, The Impossible Girl, and one hell of a cliffhanger, all packed up in one nice little package.

The box features all 13 episodes of the series, including all the prequels, as well as the five-part mini-series “Pond Life”  There’s also three new mini-sodes featuring The Doctor working on his chore to delete himself from the databanks of the world, he and River Song in one of their various unseen adventures, and Clara having a heart-to-heart with the TARDIS.

After a change in heart, it also features both Christmas episodes, Jenna Coleman‘s first (official) episode The Snowmen as well as the previous year’s The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe. Commentaries are only included for selected episodes, and while the beloved Doctor Who Confidential is no longer a thing, they’ve added in the brief making of features they posted on the BBC Website. They’ve pulled the cast interview’s from BBC America‘s The Nerdist as well. Longer making of features cover Karen and Arthur’s last day on set, a more in-depth piece on The Gunslinger, and Creating Clara.

A series of specials round out the set, including The Science of Doctor Who as seen on BBC America, as well specials on The Companions, Doctor Who at Comic-Con and more on The Doctor’s adventures in America, both on screen and behind it.

Another winner of a set, equal in quality to the sets for the previous series. This’ll easily keep you busy till the anniversary special come November 23rd.

And in case you don’t already have the past sets, they’ve updated the complete box set to include the seventh series, and included the Sonic Screwdriver universal remote control of which you may have heard.  So, good opportunity to buy the love of your favorite Whovian for the rest of their regenerations life.


Still Not Ginger – Peter Capaldi is the New Doctor

Announced at the climax of a globally-broadcast special, The BBC introduced the twelfth actor to play The Doctor, Peter Capaldi.

He’s a BAFTA-winning actor, winning for the role of Malcolm Tucker in The Thick of It.  He’s appeared twice on Who-related series, he played Caecilius in The Fires of Pompeii, and John Frobisher in Torchwood: Children of Earth.  In Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, he played the angel Islington.  He is currently filming the BBC adaptation of the Three Musketeers, in which he plays Cardinal Richelieu.

Showrunner Steven Moffat says he’d considered Capaldi when he was casting the eleventh Doctor, though he decided it wasn’t quite the time.

This wasn’t  his first time traveling in time, either – He played Doug Hatton in the recurring sketch “Drunk in Time” on The All new Alexei Sayle Show.

Peter most recently appeared in World War Z, playing a physician working with the World Health Organization.  Or, as he’s listed on the IMDB, “WHO Doctor“.

No details have been yet shared as to how much a part he will played in the final two episodes of the year. Though it’s traditional for the new Doctor to only appear in the last moments of the last episode, the Christmas episode has not been filmed, and David Tennant made his first full appearance in the first Christmas episode, “The Christmas Invasion”.

Mr. Capaldi’s movements will likely be closely followed, and any appearance he makes in the Christmas episode will likely be widely reported.  The Management awaits his work with extreme interest.

The Question Will Be Answered – New Doctor to be announced Sunday on live show

Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor

After much discussion a more than a sizable amount of betting, the BBC have announced that the actor to play the 12th (that we know of) title character on Doctor Who will be introduced to the public this Sunday at 7PM in the UK.  Titled Doctor Who Live: The Next Doctor, and hosted by TV and radio show presenter Zoe Ball.  The show will feature current Eleventh Doctor Matt Smith and showrunner Steven Moffatt, and the new actor will make their first appearance.

Revelation of the new Doctor has always been a media circus in England – bookies regularly take bets on who the actor will be, and stories rife with rumors and predictions will always draw eyes.  Eleventh Doctor Matt Smith was introduced in a special episode of Doctor Who Confidential – this is seemingly the next logical step for dealing with the instantaneous dissemination world of just a few years later.

While this will answer the question that has been on fans’ lips for some weeks now, it’s only one of several that have cropped up since.  The most immediate is how much of the new Doctor will we see in the last of this year’s episodes?

Matt Smith seemingly slipped a couple of times in panels at San Diego, saying that he had already filmed “his last episode”, namely the anniversary special.  He followed up quickly that he’d be back for Christmas, and he promised it’d be “a real belter”, but considering there’s no guarantee when the regeneration will take place.  They’ve made sure to select the new Doctor before the filming of the Christmas episode begins.

While it’s traditional to show the regeneration at the end of a season, that’s not how it started.  William Hartnell regenerated into Patrick Troughton in the middle of the season, and Troughton got right to it the next week in Evil of the Daleks.  David Tennant got his first full episode as The Doctor in the first Christmas episode The Christmas Invasion, after Christopher Eccleston left and regenerated at the end of his first and only series.  Smith appeared for only seconds at the end of The End of Time, returning for his first episode the next Spring.

We’re already seeing a two-Doctor episode for the anniversary, namely Tennant and Smith. That’s with the potential of more – Moffatt claims to have been “lying through his teeth” about what’s in the special, and rumors of a brief cameo scene by Paul McGann have started popping up again.  What, dare I suggest, if the Doctor regenerates at the end of the Anniversary special, and Smith only appears as an unseen Tyler Durden like advisor in the new Doctor’s mind?

For all the frenzy Sunday’s announcement will make, it will only be met with equal madness over the next few months until both remaining Smith episodes will bring.

Come Along.

Doctor Who 50th anniversary special to be simulcast globally


Initially reported by UK tabloid The Sun and quickly verified by the BBC, the 50th anniversary special episode of Doctor Who will be broadcast simultaneously across the world, touted as the largest simulcast of a drama ever.

The special has been sold to approximately 200 countries, so the amount of timing and cooperation required will be quite high.  Sources say the move was done to eliminate any chance of spoilers for people in countries who traditionally receive the episodes after the initial broadcast in the UK.

This would put the broadcast spread across four hours of the early afternoon (depending on time zone) in the United States, and in the early hours of the 24th of November on the far side of the world like Australia and New Zealand.

The special will be broadcast in both 2D and 3D.  Complete details have not been released on which version will be broadcast in which markets.  The special features the return of David Tennant and Billie Piper as The Doctor and Rose Tyler, as well as classic villains The Daleks and Zygons.  At San Diego Comic-Con, showrunner Steven Moffat claims he’s been “lying through his teeth” about what and who is in the episode, resulting in the resurgence of rumors of other unreported cameos, including Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor, making only one on-screen appearance, in the Fox-produced TV movie.

When the 20th anniversary episode The Five Doctors was produced in 1983, it did not receive a similarly-coordinated release.  Indeed, American fans got to see the special BEFORE the UK.  The network of public television stations who were broadcasting the series got permission to show the special on November 23 exactly, which was a Wednesday.  The BBC didn’t show it in the UK till that Saturday, the traditional day of broadcast for the series in England.  By  a wonderful coincidence, November 23rd falls on Saturday this year, allowing the anniversary to take place on the day it originally aired with no schedule-juggling.

This plan is not only a huge PR coup for the BBC, it’s also a wonderful example of life imitating art.  In Last of the Time Lords, Martha Jones walked the Earth for nearly a year, spreading the tale of The Doctor, in preparation for everyone on the planet to think about him and chant his name at a precise day and moment, the resulting wave of psychic energy intended to give the Time Lord the power to undo the actions of The Master and save the day.  With the BBC setting up to do the very same thing, one can only wonder what the real-world wave of power might do.

Personally, I’m hoping it’ll provide the power to jump-start the working TARDIS that the BBC Radiophonics Workshop has secretly been working on for years.

Matt Smith leaving “Doctor Who” at Christmas, Internet asks for tissue

Matt Smith as the Eleventh DoctorThe BBC announced officially this weekend that Matt Smith, current star of Doctor Who, will be leaving the series in the Christmas episode.

Both Matt and showrunner Steven Moffat have already been quoted heaping glowing praise on each other, and rightly so.  Doctor Who fandom has already kicked into overdrive, showering tumblr and other blog pages with a deluge of tribute graphics, please to remain, and other spontaneous eruptions of raw emotion.

Doctor Who fans will now once again pass through the seven stages of grief, a process that some have never experienced, being new to the show, some have already seen once or twice, or for older fans (raises hand), seven, eight, or as many as eleven times.

One of the most amazing things about Doctor Who is this process of regeneration.  While other actors have been replaced on television shows, Doctor Who invented a process that made it a part of the narrative.  Time Lords, the Doctor’s people, have the ability to completely rejuvenate themselves in times of extreme trauma, completely reborn, with a new body and a new personalty.  It allows the show to not only move on past the departure of its star, but forge into brand new directions.

Along with the regeneration process will be an equally traditional series of events:

The news media will kick the rumor mills into high gear – Names will be floated, denials will be made, and actors will play coy, taking advantage of the publicity to get their name in the sun.

The betting will begin – Gambling is legal in the UK, and the local bookies have traditionally taken wagers on the identity of the new Doctor.  And the aforementioned media will report the current oddsmaking, as if it has some connection to reality. As in the rumor mill, new names will emerge and rise and fall in the rankings, and it’ll be a delight to watch.Unless you’ve put money down, in which case it’ll be harrowing.

The discussions about making The Doctor a woman will re-emerge – So too making him black, or Asian, or any of the other “types” of people a character can be.  Both Mike Gold and Yr obt svt. have discussed the recurring meme, more about the fervor and hysteria around it.

The fans will swear blind it will never be as good as (insert name here) – Nothing is ever as good as what you have now, or if you are older (just leaves hand in air), than what you had when you were younger.  Each Doctor was perfect, and nobody can ever replace him, until about five minutes into the first new episode when the new guy grabs you and rubs your tummy with his acting and makes you forget the last guy’s name for a moment.  The show will careen off in a new direction, just like a trip in the TARDIS itself, and the trip will be thrilling and terrifying, and ultimately satisfying.

Someone’s life will never be the same again – Moffat has it right – “Somewhere out there right now – all unknowing, just going about their business – is someone who’s about to become the Doctor“.  The show was popular during its original run, but now it’s dead center in popular culture, and the person selected to play The Doctor will shoot  to super-stardom before a frame’s been shot.  Matt Smith has already taken advantage of the opportunities the role has afforded him – he’s currently filming Ryan Gosling’s directorial debut How to Make a Monster, and plans to direct himself.

With six months to go before the final Smith adventure airs, and several weeks before it starts filming, fandom will be filled with many emotions, a rampant desire to learn new details, and will spent a great deal of time trying to separate reality from fantasy.  Moffat and the BBC will begin the arduous process of choosing the actor to entrust with their golden franchise (if, indeed, they haven’t already started…or even finished), all the time trying to ride the line between keeping it all a secret and letting just enough details slip to keep the media hungry.

There may be an important wrinkle to the new Doctor’s story that may take the show in a dramatic direction.  Matt’s Doctor is the eleventh regeneration, but events at the end of the final episode of the series suggest that there’s one more to be accounted for.  John Hurt was revealed to be playing The Doctor as well, and fans has surmised he may be (have been) a regeneration between Eight (Paul McGann) and Nine (Christopher Eccleston).  If so, even though Matt’s calls himself the eleventh Doctor, he’d be the twelfth…and the next one would be the thirteenth.  According to the show’s history, a Time Lord can only regenerate twelve times, for a total of thirteen bodies, which would make the next Doctor…the last.

Which will likely never occur.  Russell T. Davies has already said that when the time to get around that little plot device that seemed SO far away when they came up with it decades ago, “I’m sure someone will wave the Amulet of Zog and sort it all out”.  But it’ll be the process to get to that eventual happy end that will make the show all the more exciting,.

Mindy Newell: The Soufflé Is The Recipe

Newell Art 130522The strength of the Doctor Who reboot has been in its emphasis on relationships.

The name of this season’s finale was The Name of the Doctor, but everything we’ve ever really needed to know about him has been expressed through all those relationships.

The relationship between the Doctor and all of the millions and billions of lives that he has saved through all his 11 incarnations.

The relationship between the Doctor and his companions.

The relationship between the Doctor and River Song.

And the relationship between the Doctor and the girl who lived and died and lived again and died again.

The Impossible Girl.

The girl born to save the Doctor.

Clara Oswald.

We first met Clara in this year’s season premiere, Asylum of the Daleks, only her name was Oswin Oswald. Oswin is the only surviving member of the crew of the starship Alaska, which crashed onto the prison planet of the Daleks. When the Doctor attempts to rescue her, he discovers that she has become a Dalek; in order to survive, Oswin created a fantasy life—which includes trying to make the perfect soufflé. She saved the Doctor (and Amy and Rory) by erasing the memory of the Doctor from the memory banks of the Daleks, telling him to “Run, you clever boy. And remember,” but sacrifices her own life to do so.

We met Clara again in Victorian London in The Snowmen, 2012’s Christmas Special, but now she is a governess and barmaid. Clara dies after again saving the Doctor, and when he sees her tombstone, he is mystified and stunned – for it reads Clara Oswin Oswald. The Doctor realizes that this Clara and the Oswin from the Dalek Asylum are one and the same person. He becomes determined to find her again, sure that she is alive somewhere in time. And in the epilogue, we see a contemporary version of the same woman walking through a cemetery, and past the Victorian Clara’s grave. Her name is Clara Oswald.

For Clara Oswald is the “impossible girl.” Last night, the opening sequence showed Clara interacting with William Hartnell as he was about to steal a Tardis, telling him that he was taking the wrong one, that. We saw her calling after Jon Pertwee, chasing Tom Baker, yelling after Sylvester McCoy, trying to help Peter Davison and Colin Baker (shades of Zelig, Forest Gump, and Tibbles and Tribulations!) She tells us that she was born to save the Doctor, saying, “He always looks different, but I always know it’s him.”

The Doctor told Clara there is one place a time traveler must never go—to his grave. For the Doctor that is the planet Tenzalore. But it is on Tenzalore where Clara realizes her destiny—to become the “impossible girl,” and save the Doctor, and by saving the Doctor, saving millions. The regenerative energy will break her into a million pieces, confetti strips made of Clara, echoes of the original, but, she says, “it’s like my mother always said, the soufflé isn’t the soufflé, the soufflé is the recipe.”

She jumps in, and she is lost in time.

She calls out for the Doctor.

Again and again.

And then she hears the Doctor’s voice.

He sends her something to hold on to, something which will lead her to him.

It is the leaf that blew into her father’s face…

…which led him to Clara’s mother…

…which led to Clara’s birth…

…which led her to the Doctor…

…all of them…

…until the eleventh Doctor found Clara…


…and again…

…and again…

THURSDAY: Dennis O’Neil

FRIDAY: Martha Thomases